Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 198 - 03 to 09 Mar 2008

from World Health Organization
Published on 09 Mar 2008
Each week, the World Health Organization Health Action in Crises in Geneva produces information highlights on critical health-related activities in countries where there are humanitarian crises. Drawing on the various WHO programmes, contributions cover activities from field and country offices and the support provided by WHO regional offices and headquarters. The mandate of the WHO departments specifically concerned with Emergency and Humanitarian Action in Crises is to increase the effectiveness of the WHO contribution to crisis preparedness and response, transition and recovery. This note, which is not exhaustive, is designed for internal use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.


Assessments and Events

- The upsurge in armed violence is causing great humanitarian concern, while efforts at political negotiations continue.

- In Gaza, ground operations and air strikes have killed 116 people since 27 February, and hospitals are struggling to cope with the influx of wounded. Several health clinics were hit and medical assets were destroyed.

- The MoH is in a state of emergency: essentials for surgery and emergency care, drugs and supplies are getting quickly depleted. Eighty-five essential drugs and around 50 consumables are lacking. Elective surgeries were suspended in all hospitals. Some health workers have been redeployed according to needs. On 2 March, several patients were allowed to be evacuated to Israel and Egypt for urgent care.

- Gaza also continues to face fuel shortages, leaving many ambulances unable to function and most residents with only an intermittent water supply.


- WHO is working with UN agencies and the international community to ensure life-saving care.

- WHO disseminated to partner agencies a matrix listing the MoH urgent needs in terms of drugs, medical supplies and equipment, laboratory and blood bank reagents and fuel. WHO has immediately started to purchase drugs and consumables in Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

- Close to US$ 1.3 million is required to urgently purchase medical equipment.

- In 2007, WHO's emergency activities were supported by ECHO, Italy, Norway, OCHA/Spain, and the CERF.

More information is available at:

A coalition of humanitarian and human rights organizations based in the UK has issued as a report stating that he humanitarian situation in Gaza is worse than it has ever been since 1967.

Furter escalation happened on 6 March following an attack against civilians in West Jerusalem which resulted in eight deaths and many injuries.


Assessments and Events

- New assessments are giving a clearer picture of the situation. As of 29 February, 83 people are reported dead, 177 missing, 580 wounded and up to 322 000 affected, including almost 188 000 homeless.

- Humanitarian assistance is impeded by difficult access, and the Logistic Cluster will provide a helicopter to distribute the drugs and equipment provided by WHO and UNICEF. However, stocks of essential drugs do not appear sufficient to cover all the needs.

- Together with difficult access, poor surveillance for waterborne diseases is a critical issue Overcrowding, lack of latrines and poor access to safe drinking water are major concerns in Antananarivo. In Analanjirofo region and Ile Sainte Marie, health facilities are damaged or destroyed and power shortages are affecting the cold chain.

- On 22 February, the Government of Madagascar appealed to the UN and the international community for assistance.


- A WHO/EHA expert from the inter-country office in Harare assisted in need assessment, response planning and Health Cluster coordination.

- WHO and Health Cluster partners are coordinating activities to ensure that all needs are filled. The goal is to re-establish access to health care focusing on:

- Expanding assessments;

- Reinforcing epidemiological surveillance;

- Reinforcing primary health care including through mobile services and a Minimum Service Package;

- Increasing the availability of essential drugs.

- WHO has also requested US$ 350 000 from the CERF to strengthen its activities in the field. Monaco has expressed its intention to support WHO.

A Flash Appeal will be launched on 12 March. The Health Cluster is requesting US$ 5.5 million for emergency activities.